Partner Spotlight: Campesinos Sin Fronteras
[Editor’s Note: Since July 2021, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (Alianza), Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN), Rural Coalition (RC) and 20 organizational partners and members have mobilized 221 community health outreach workers across 20 states and Puerto Rico to encourage vaccination within Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) rural communities through a learning collaborative. Funded by an $8.1 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), the effort aims to raise vaccination rates among immigrant and migrant farmworkers, and rural communities of color by reinforcing COVID-19 information, addressing vaccine hesitancy and accessibility, and assisting in countering misinformation and disinformation.]
For over a decade, Campesinos Sin Fronteras (CSF) has worked tirelessly to launch a bilingual radio station serving the border populations of Yuma County, Arizona, and the Northwestern corner of Sonora, Mexico. CSF staff knew their radio station would be a way to reach rural farmworkers, who often lack internet access, and would help their nonprofit to achieve community-focused goals through the dissemination of important cultural content and news. In 2018, Radio Sin Fronteras began airing a mix of music, talk shows, and news. Now, the station plays a critical new role to help the community stay healthy – fighting misinformation around the pandemic and myths about COVID-19 vaccines.
CSF has been operating as a nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization in Yuma County, Arizona since 1999. In that time, CSF has served the migrant populations of southwestern Arizona, working with migrant farmworkers, low to moderate income populations, and the agriculture community in the Colorado River’s watershed. CSF staff work on housing, citizenship assistance, workforce development, and other social services and labor issues.
CSF’s Executive Director Emma Torres stressed the importance of radio in the Latinx community, during an MCN hosted learning collaborative, explaining that “Latinos are one of the populations that still use radio as one of their primary ways of communication. We’re here at the border with Mexico and it's still a primary way of reaching out.” Radio Sin Fronteras has been CSF’s most effective strategy for communicating accurate news about COVID-19 and vaccines to at-risk community members. “The radio is the only real free service that people can get… All they need to have is a radio,” said Torres. “They don’t have to have internet. Right now, there’s a lot of things going on in these rural communities or they don’t always have internet access or the digital expertise or equipment to connect. Radio stations surpass that.”
Radio Sin Fronteras is the third most powerful bilingual radio station in the county and has the potential to reach over one million residents, both in the United States and Mexico. The station broadcasts through all of Yuma County and reaches listeners in several bordering counties, as well as Sonora and Baja California in Mexico, allowing CSF to provide useful vaccination information not just to the immigrant population, but to anyone who lives in the states that border Arizona and Southern California. Torres explained that the radio station is able to broadcast PSAs stressing the importance of vaccination to these communities, and that even the content of the shows and music it broadcasts is carefully selected to promote positive messages within the Spanish-speaking community.
Since COVID-19 began, CSF has refocused much of their effort towards the current health crisis affecting their community. A useful strategy CFS staff have been implementing during the pandemic is staff being present at transportation hubs that immigrant farmworkers use to get to their jobs, such as public bus stops. Going as early as 2 A.M., staff are able to survey farmworkers as well as give them masks and other protective gear and information for how they can protect themselves from COVID-19. CSF has also been using MCNs ‘Vaccination Is...’ Campaign materials to enhance their efforts and to encourage COVID-19 booster shots. The editable materials can be customized for communities where they are needed, whether for online social media posts or for print content such as editable tri-folds and posters.
At a recent learning collaborative, CSF shared how they have also been able to run a series of vaccination events to increase their reach, working with the University of Arizona to utilize their mobile vaccination clinic. Since September, CSF has held ten vaccination events that have distributed 4,505 vaccines within their community. Moving forward, Radio Sin Fronteras will continue to be utilized for valuable communication, and CSF’s vaccination events will continue to serve hard-to-reach rural and migrant communities.
Each week MCN facilitates a bilingual Learning Collaborative that offers partners access to clinical staff, other experts, an extensive library of fully editable COVID-19 resources, evidence-based COVID-19 updates, and extensive communications and marketing technical assistance to support partner’s use and adaptation of resources to fit their community’s needs. Each organization shares learning collaborative content and activities with their frontline community health workers, who tirelessly promote COVID-19 vaccination in the counties, towns, and neighborhoods where they live. This blog series highlights best and promising practices used by grant partners across the country, which are shared at the learning collaboratives, creating a diverse learning environment.
This is supported by the Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $8,105,547 with 0% percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.
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